After 32 years at Eden Prairie Center, Great Mandarin Chinese Restaurant posted a notice on Facebook earlier this month that the restaurant will be closing after a last day of service on Dec. 31, 2022.
The Dec. 19 Facebook post stated, “As many of you know, the pandemic changed a lot of things for all of us. It was a real challenge to make the food you love available to you while also protecting our health and yours. On top of that, supply chain made food costs higher, staffing shortages meant our family-owned restaurant had to work harder, and we put everything we had into staying connected with the community … all out of joy and appreciation for you.”
The post also stated that “the Great Mandarin family has made the choice to retire at the end of the year.” In a separate interview, Great Mandarin owner Tony Truong said that a factor contributing to his decision not to renew the restaurant’s lease, which expires at the end of the year, is that “I’m getting old.”
Over his years at the restaurant, Truong said, “I know a lot of people who married, had kids, now the kids have graduated from college and got married, now they got grandkids. It’s unbelievable. I’m gonna miss a lot of people.”
Everything on the Great Mandarin menu is prepared from scratch, Truong said, including restaurant specialties like tiger pork, honey walnut shrimp, and sesame chicken.
Since the notice about the closure went live, Truong said, he’s received calls from former patrons and snowbirds who are currently in places like Atlanta, New Orleans, or Arizona. “Some of them congratulate me. Some of them cry,” he said.
“I have a ton of memories, all good,” since the restaurant opened in 1990, Truong said.
He mentioned that the restaurant had provided food for a December staff appreciation event for Eden Prairie’s Central Middle School. In addition to Eden Prairie Schools and youth sports programs, regular patrons and supporters of the restaurant over the years have also come from the Eden Prairie Police Department, the City of Eden Prairie staff, and the Eden Prairie Center mall.
Great Mandarin Chinese Restaurant was one of the earliest supporters of the Foundation for Eden Prairie Schools’ Taste of Eden Prairie fundraising event, and, Truong said, he has also “helped homeless people” over the years. “I do a little thing. My heart tells me to do that,” he said.
In addition to the local connections, Great Mandarin appeared in the Kevin Smith movie “Mallrats,” filmed at Eden Prairie Center in 1995.
Truong has also provided catering for the Minnesota Vikings since the Herschel Walker days with Vikings head coach Jerry Burns through current head coach Kevin O’Connell. “They called me and want me to bring food for next week,” Truong said.
After the restaurant’s closure, Truong, who is also a resident of Eden Prairie, said he has no immediate plans.
“I’m a lucky guy,” Truong said. “I’ve learned Eden Prairie is a good community with wonderful people. I really do appreciate my 32 years” in the restaurant business. “Most of the time, I think I did a good job.”
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